Majestic drinks to strong sales of English wine

Kasmira Jefford
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MAJESTIC WINE posted a rise in annual profits yesterday, thanks to thriving online sales and Brits uncorking more bottles of fine and sparkling wine from homegrown pastures.

Chief executive Steve Lewis said festive events such as the Diamond Jubilee last June helped increase the popularity of English sparkling wines, with sales up 200 per cent in the year to 1 April. Sales of fine wine – priced at more than £20 per bottle – also rose by 9.2 per cent, which Lewis attributed to more consumers awarding themselves a “because I’m worth it” moment.

The wine retailer said pre-tax profits rose 2.1 per cent to £23.7m despite total sales falling 2.1 per cent to £274.4m due to its decision to retreat from the wholesale drinks market. Sales at stores open more than a year increased by one per cent.

The group has been focused on growing its commercial business by supplying wine to restaurants, hotels and gastro pubs and recently won a contract with Lord’s cricket ground.

Sales managed by the commercial team grew 13.6 per cent on last year. Meanwhile sales through its website increased 14.7 per cent and now account for 11.1 per cent of total UK retail sales.

The number of customers rose 10 per cent to 624,000, helped by a decision in 2012 to move from a minimum order of 12 to six bottles online. Majestic runs 193 stores and said it remains on track to expand to 330.